Updated: Jun 4, 2019
We recently had our first ever annual strategic planning retreat. Nestled in the hills of Angels Camp, California, we were just a short drive away from various creeks and trails. We spent our last day caught in a rainstorm at Big Trees State Park, surrounded by majestic Sequoias and beautiful Dogwoods, and we were visited by a family of deer just below our balcony one night.
While the purpose of our retreat was to set goals, prioritize and plan out the year ahead, a huge part of the process was re-connecting to our individual relationship with discipline, dedication, desire and direction. We ‘rediscovered’ (I guess you could say) that what determines true success, and true authenticity, both in business and in our personal lives, is to cultivate these 4 qualities in equal measure. In addition, we found that growing an organization, especially one that is steeped in transpersonal self-development, is first and foremost an inside job. It starts with us, the team, and it requires a level of honesty that can be outright uncomfortable at times.
I think that in our modern technological age, where social media is a new cultural staple, we often only see the end result of a person’s or business’ efforts. We hear about the successful launch, the $10,000 month, the book publications, features, podcast invitations and client testimonials. Very rarely do we see behind the scenes, the years that were spent getting an organization off the ground, the hours poured into content creation, the pivots and last minute decisions, the doubts and fears and entire days that are crippled by lack of motivation or halfhearted commitment. And even rarer do we see the really gritty parts a person goes through, the psychological and spiritual fortitude it takes to face down inner demons, call home projections, unpack our baggage, and wrestle with all the things that hold us back.
As founders, Frances and I agreed from the beginning that we wanted Earth Connect to be built upon a foundation of authenticity and transparency. This means showing others not only our knowledge, experience, and expertise, but also all of the areas we still need to work on, all the places and roles we’re still, ourselves, growing into.
Our week of retreat was a time of organizational mapping, and also massive personal growth. Many of the ways we have been hiding from our own work were highlighted for us, and this was an incredibly important reminder, because we do not ever want to create programs or practices that we are not also implementing in our own lives. Our personal growth is directly related to the growth or stagnation of Earth Connect and, at the same time, Earth Connect continues to grow us--because the nature of our work at Earth Connect demands that we live and embody what we offer others.
We took a seven day voyage and were eventually delivered back to our roots as healers, where we were nourished deeply and found power in reclaiming Earth Connect’s original intention. Not only did we revise our mission to reflect Earth Connect’s initial voice, but we also got super clear about why our passions keep leading us back to deep work (and as Frances would say, joyful work). Remembering our ‘why’ was significant, and really circles back on the inner work we’re asked to do. Because it doesn’t ever end with us.
What I mean is that people who are suffering create more of it. Have you ever heard the adage "hurt people hurt people." It sounds simplistic but it's actually very true. Pain perpetuates itself through people who are unaware of or unable to manage the pain in their own lives. If stress and anxiety are not addressed, especially in the moment, they tend to shrink our awareness and patience, reduce our capacity to respond consciously, and contract our natural openness. I myself have had a humbling week reintegrating after retreat and could feel my heart opening and closing these past few days, I have caused undue hurt and lost compassion when it was needed most. Suffering in this way always shows me that our healing never belongs to us alone. When we are committed to our own healing we pass this onto others. When we unconsciously carry our stress and anxiety around with us, we spew the unhealed parts of ourselves into the world around us. This is what fuels our why.
Earth Connect helps people with anxiety disorders journey to wholeness through nature-based activities and programs, because healed people become a source of healing for the world.
Our revised mission, then, does not only paint a clearer picture of who we are and what we do, but it is also a statement of our personal accountability… to our continued healing, so that we too are a source of healing.
We are retaining our vision, but moving forward with a focused mission will allow us to reach people more effectively. This translates into programs with a similar purpose but renewed direction and speaks specifically to anxiety disorders (stress, PTSD, generalized, CAD, etc.). Rather than making broad sweeps, we’ll be honing in on what works and creating systems that can be utilized in daily life for people who find themselves as part of these populations.
Thanks for reading and for being a part of our valued community. We are grateful for all of you who have taken this journey with us, and honor those of you who are on your own courageous journey to wholeness.
“You don’t need to change the world; you need to change yourself.”
Don Miguel Ruiz